Famous Russian theater and movie director Kirill Serebrennikov, convicted final 12 months in an embezzlement case seen as retribution for his politically charged work, has been expelled from the Moscow theater he directed for eight years.
Serebrennikov reworked Moscow’s Gogol Heart from a small missed theater into one of many capital’s most vibrant cultural venues with experimental updates to Russian classics and performs that not directly addressed official corruption.
Within the course of, he earned the ire of the state at the same time as he discovered success overseas, working on the opera in Europe and directing a movie that was introduced in competitors at Cannes.
Moscow authorities introduced this month that they might not lengthen their contract to run the Gogol Heart, which receives public funds. Associates of the 51-year-old director stated they believed the order to fireside him got here from safety providers.
The transfer follows strain on different Russian artists and comes because the Kremlin continues its crackdown on dissent over the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, the opposition determine who returned to Russia in January after recovering from near-fatal poisoning.
“The Gogol Heart as a theater and as an concept will proceed to dwell,” Serebrennikov wrote on Instagram when confirming his departure this week. “As a result of theater and freedom are extra necessary, greater, and due to this fact extra sturdy than bureaucrats of every kind.”
Serebrennikov was convicted of fraud final 12 months and obtained a three-year suspended sentence after prosecutors accused him and others of diverting funds earmarked for cultural initiatives. The director denied the fees and the case generally turned absurd, as when prosecutors claimed manufacturing of A Midsummer Night time’s Dream, which gained applause and was seen by 1000’s of individuals, had by no means been carried out.
Cultural figures in Russia and overseas, together with Cate Blanchett and Sir Ian McKellen, referred to as for what they noticed as a politically motivated case to be dropped.
Earlier than the trial, Serebrennikov spent virtually two years beneath home arrest, unable to attend the premiere of his ballet primarily based on the lifetime of Rudolf Nureyev on the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. The manufacturing proved controversial resulting from its frank remedy of the Russian dancer’s homosexuality, and an earlier opening was canceled on the final minute.
Regardless of being restricted to his flat, Serebrennikov continued to work, viewing rehearsals of recent productions on movies submitted by his lawyer and responding with feedback. He stated in an interview earlier than his firing that the method had ready him for all times beneath coronavirus restrictions.
Over the weekend, the Russian Affiliation of Theater Critics appealed to the Moscow division of tradition to ask to be allowed to remain. “The Gogol Heart is not possible with out Serebrennikov. Moscow within the 2020s is not possible with out the Gogol Heart, ”the affiliation stated in an open letter, including that tickets for exhibits on the venue had been offered out till spring.
However the division later stated that Serebrennikov would get replaced by Alexey Agranovich, an actor and director who has labored on the Gogol Heart for a number of years.
“I’m positive that Alexey Agranovich will deal with this tough job,” Serebrennikov stated in a press release issued by the venue. “Within the present state of affairs, that is the perfect candidate.”
Serebrennikov didn’t reply to a request for extra remark, however her buddy Marina Davydova, a theater critic and editor-in-chief of Russian journal Teatr, stated the director had proposed Agranovich as his alternative.
The elimination of Serebrennikov was a part of the “normal pattern” of authoritarianism in Russia, he stated.
“Exist [some officials] who really feel an actual hatred in direction of Kirill. It can’t be defined via politics or ideology: it’s another person. They wish to make issues as disagreeable as attainable for him. “
Davydova stated he hoped the Gogol Heart may proceed in its present type regardless of strain from authorities. “It doesn’t do direct politics, however it’s a membership of freethinkers,” he stated, including that the theater had a liberal viewers and steadily held debates and lectures.
Different Russian artists have come beneath assault lately. Members of the Pussy Riot collective are steadily arrested, whereas feminist artist Yulia Tsvetkova is awaiting trial in Russia’s Far East on expenses that supporters say had been introduced due to her LGBTQ activism.
Serebrennikov has stated he’s engaged on numerous upcoming movie and opera initiatives, together with a manufacturing of Parsifal on the Vienna State Opera in April.